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It's all over for Miller, Blues after third-period implosion in Chicago

Miller-Shaw
Hawks winger Andrew Shaw celebrates his third-period goal against Ryan Miller (AP Photo)

By Mike Harrington

CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Blues brought in Ryan Miller as what they felt was the last key piece to make a Stanley Cup run. They didn't come close.

The Blues' season ended in stunning fashion Sunday as Miller got burned for four third-period goals in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks before a roaring, red-clad crowd at the United Center. The Hawks took the final four games of the first-round series to win it, 4-2.

And Miller thus has still not won a single postseason series since 2007, when the Sabres beat the New York Rangers in the second round. Miller has now dropped four straight matchups.

Miller got badly outplayed in the game and the series by Chicago's Corey Crawford, who had a 1.98 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in the six games. Miller had a 2.70 GAA and sickly .897 save percentage. 

"I'm just really disappointed the game didn't turn in our direction," Miller said. "1-1 going into the third is a pretty good situation for us and we didn't get it done."

The Blues had a 17-3 advantage in shots on goal in the second period and the count ws 28-11 through 40 minutes. But St. Louis went 0 for 6 on the power  play and paid the ultimate price when Chicago captain Jonathan Toews broke the 1-1 tie with a power-play goal 44 seconds into the third period.

Things really started to fall apart  when Patrick Sharp scored a fluky goal at 2:01, chipping the puck under Miller on a semi breakaway while getting high-sticked by Kevin Shattenkirk. Miller was caught going too late for a poke-check.

"I was in the right spot and that last tug he kind of chipped it in between," Miller said. "So yeah.  It was just too bad."

"The third goal was a backbreaker," said coach Ken Hitchcock. "The bench was still fine. Our team had great spirit at the start, great spirit for the first and second period. We played as well as we've ever played in this building the way we played the first two periods. The third goal? 'Whoosh' The air went right out of our bench."

Miller then gave up a deflection to Andrew Shaw at 7:30 and Duncan Keith beat him on 2-on-1 at 17:05 to close the scoring. It's the second straight year the Blues have won the first two games of their first-round series and lost the next four; the same thing happened last year against the Los Angeles Kings.

It also means Miller and former Sabres captain Steve Ott will head into free agency. 

"We're through with the hockey part now," Miller said. "We'll have to see where we're at. See how they feel about me. I definitely like St. Louis. I like the guys. I like the team. We'll see what they feel about the playoffs."

"I don't know what my situation is," said Ott. "It's way too early to even think about that. I don't want to think about that. I'm still thinking I'm running for a Cup right now."

Click below to hear full postgame audio from Miller, Steve Ott and Hitchcock. There's some silence at the start of the Miller clip but be patient. He's standing among us taking a few seconds pondering his answer to the first question.

Ryan Miller

Steve Ott

Ken Hitchcock

Hawks specialize in closing, Blues dealing in spooky coincidence

By Mike Harrington

CHICAGO -- The Blackhawks have everything in their favor going into Game Six today against the St. Louis Blues in the United Center (TV reminder: 3 p.m. Eastern on NBC and CBC).  Chicago has won three straight in the series, the last two in OT, and has a history of coming through in the clutch late in a playoff series, which I documented in my column for today's editions.

The print version of the column included the following chart, which pretty starkly shows how good the numbers are.

------------

BLACKHAWKS AT CRUNCH TIME

Analyzing the Chicago Blackhawks' playoff record the last five seasons:

Series record: 8-2
W-L record: 40-23
Games One-Three: 16-17
Games Four-Seven: 24-6
Overtime: 13-9
OT Games One-Three: 4-7
OT Games Four-Seven: 9-2

---------

Meanwhile, the Blues are dealing with some incredibly bizarre history comparing  this series  to last year's loss to the LA Kings, a six-gamer that saw St. Louis also win the first two at home and then collapse. Look at what's happened in BOTH years. Wow

Game One: Alex Steen scored overtime winners.
Game  Two: Barrett Jackman scored the game-winning goal, this year’s coming in overtime.
Game  Three:  The Blues outshot the Kings and Blackhawks by nine but lost by shutout.
Game  Four:  The Blues blow a late 3-2 lead and lose, 4-3, to even the series.
Game Five (both years, remember!): Alex Pietrangelo scores the game-tying goal, his first of the playoffs, and gets assisted by Jaden Schwartz. But the Blues lose in OT, 3-2.

Last year in Game  Six, the Blues lost to the Kings, 2-1, and were eliminated. If they lose here today, 2-1 .... that would just be theater of the absurd.

Painting the town to support the Blues' run for the Stanley Cup

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- As I previously posted, Steve Ott is certainly stoked about the Blues-Blackhawks series. And they're painting the town blue in support of their team.

They even changed the fountains of Kiener Plaza, in the shadow of the 1857 Courthouse and Gateway Arch, to blue in honor of the Blues. They've made these red for the Cardinals during my trips here for the World Series in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013. Click on the video below to stop and start it!

Ott on Blues-Blackhawks series: 'This is why we play this game'

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- I had a chance to sit down with Blues forward and former Sabres captain Steve Ott today following the pregame skate for Game Five against the Blackhawks, and he was as stoked as you can imagine about getting a chance to play in a series like this.

Ott, remember, has not been in the playoffs since the Dallas Stars' 2008 run to the Western Conference finals.

"I've been waiting for that moment for a long time," he said.  "To have that jump-started and get back after it, this is why we play this game. This is why we fight so hard for 82 games, to scratch and claw and get a chance in the playoffs. Now with the parity in the league, it doesn't matter where you finish as long as you're in the playoffs."

Here's a look at Ott's series to date, listing goals-assists-points, plus/minus, ice time, shots on goal, hits and faceoffs

Gm# G-A-Pts +/- TOI,  SOG,  Ht, FO
Gm1 0-1-1 Ev 30:53 3/3/7-3
Gm2 0-0-0 -1 15:05 2/3/7-4
Gm3 0-0-0 -1 20:05 2/8/14-6
Gm4 0-1-1 + 2 18:11 0/7/9-12
------------------------------------
Tot  0-2-2 Ev 21:05* 7/21/37-25
(*21:05 is Ott's average in the four games)

So you can see,  especially from hits and faceoffs, that Ott has been pretty active in this series. And he had the primary assist on Alex Steen's triple-overtime winner in Game One.

"I started feeling ... my game coming along because of the transition finally happening in the last 5-8 games," Ott said. "It's where I staarted to feel comfortable with structure and situations. It's kind of led into the playoffs, where now I feel totally comfortable like I have anywhere else in my
career."

Ott had a good laugh when I told him that Patrick Kane's overtime winner for Chicago in Game Four was probably the first time in his career the South Buffalo native had some folks back home fretting over his exploits. There are certainly a lot of Ryan Miller fans in Buffalo, plus Sabres fans hoping the Blues win this series and draw closer to giving Buffalo their No. 1 draft pick for Miller.

"We all know there's a lot to cheer for with this St. Louis team for the people in Buffalo," Ott said. "It's great to have that kind of recognition there in Buffalo for myself and Ryan."

Be sure to look for more from Ott in my story in Saturday's editions of The News.

Blues waiting on Backes, Hawks looking for more offense

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- The daily David Backes question is hanging over the pivotal Game Five between the Blues and Blackhawks tonight in Scottrade Center, as the teams are tied at two wins apiece.

Will the St. Louis captain play after taking the suspension-causing hit from Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game Two? It appears the answer is no, as Backes did not take the morning skate today.

But this is the cloak-and-dagger show known as the playoffs and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is keeping people guessing.

"Like I said in Chicago, there's lots of rinks here in St. Louis too so you never know," Hitchcock said wryly. "He might just jump on the ice and be there skating in the warmup. Then you can all press 'send' on your tweets and away you go."

Former Sabre Derek Roy skated this morning in the middle of a top line, between Jaden Schwartz and T.J. Oshie, but stayed on the ice with scratches and continued to skate -- which is quite odd. Roy was still on the ice when the media left the Blues locker room to speak to Hitchcock, so Roy could be the stop-gap if Backes can't go.

As for the Hawks, they continue to look for offense from Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa -- who both are goal-less through four games after finishing 1-2 on the team in the regular season with 34 and 30, respectively.

"I'll take all the chances I can get," Sharp said. "It means I'm creating something and doing something good out there. Sooner or later they're going to start going in." 

"I'm happy to play my 200-foot game," added Hossa, who has still done some good defensive work in the series. "I want to keep contributing there and my chances will come."

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville put Patrick Kane (team-high three goals) back with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell this morning. Kane was not in the Hawks' crowded room when the media was inside. Hossa had been in that spot in Game Four.

Both coaches marveled at the intensity of the series and how big Game Five will be. The Blackhawks are 0-4 here this year and all four have been excruciating defeats.

"This is the advantage game, not the elimination game," Hitchcock said. "But we want the advantage."

Said Quenneville: "There's been some serious twists and turns inside of games here."

Hockey's hardest lead to keep: Roll call of playoff failures

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- It's hard to fathom how teams are bolting to leads during the first round of the playoffs but failing to seal the deal. When I asked Blues coach Ken Hitchcock about the trend Thursday, he simply said the first round is "chaotic." That's a pretty good description of a lot of the games we've seen so far.

There have been 12 games -- including at least one in all eight series -- where one team had a lead of at least two goals and let that slip away. In nine of the 12, the team blowing the lead lost the game. 

Stat heads say "score effects", which means teams that are ahead tend to let up and teams that are behind press. That's true, but I still say "goaltending effects." There's been terrible goalie play all over the place and it's been hard for anybody to lock a game down.

Here's the list of all the blown leads thus far in the postseason with a link to the boxscsore of each.

Columbus vs.  Pittsburgh
Game 1: Columbus led, 3-1.  Pittsburgh won, 4-2.
Game 2: Pittsburgh led, 2-0 and 3-1. Columbus won in 2OT, 4-3.
Game 3: Columbus led, 2-0 and 3-1. PIttsburgh won, 4-3.
Game 4:  Pittsburgh led, 3-0. Columbus won, 4-3, in OT.
(First series in NHL history where a lead of at least two goals was blown in each of the first four games)

Boston vs. Detroit
Game 4: Detroit led, 2-0. Boston won in OT, 3-2.

Montreal vs. Tampa Bay
Game 4: Montreal led, 2-0 and 3-1. Tampa tied it, 3-3. Montreal won, 4-3.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia
Game 2: NY Rangers led,  2-0. Philadelphia won, 4-2.

Chicago vs. St. Louis
Game 2: St. Louis led, 2-0. Chicago tied and led. St. Louis won, 4-3, in OT
Game 4: Chicago led, 2-0. St. Louis led, 3-2. Chicago won, 4-3,  in OT

Colorado vs. Minnesota
Game 1: Minnesota led, 4-2. Colorado won,  5-4, in OT

Anaheim vs. Dallas
Game 4: Anaheim led, 2-0. Dallas won, 4-2

Los Angeles vs. San Jose
Game 3: Los Angeles led, 2-0. San Jose won, 7-2

Kane, Stanley quite a duo across Western New York

HumveeBy Mike Harrington

Yes, it's not the Sabres but there were plenty of people in Niagara Falls, South Buffalo and West Seneca on Saturday who hope that someday it might be. That said, they were plenty happy to see South Buffalo's Patrick Kane bring the Stanley Cup home to Western New York for the second time in four years.

Each player on the Cup-winning team gets the trophy for 24 hours and Saturday was Kane's day in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks' championship secured with their dramatic Game Six comeback in June over the Boston Bruins. Kane also came with the Conn Smythe Trophy for his MVP performance in the playoffs. 

Kane's day started with some family pictures with the Cup and Conn Smythe along Lake Erie before he headed to the Niagara Falls Air Base to greet service personnel, as well as members of the Buffalo Sled Veteran Warriors and Buffalo Warriors hockey teams (below right). Kane brought the Cup into Hangar 907 on a large military humvee (above left) and was greeted by Congressman Brian Higgins as well as military personnel.

Warriors"For you guys to give up your personal lives and sacrifice for what you do for our country is unbelievable," Kane told the crowd. "I can carry around a Stanley Cup that's 35 pounds or an MVP trophy that's brought along with us here today but you guys carry our country on your back. It's really amazing."

Then it was on to one of Kane's favorite pizza stops, Imperial Pizza on Abbott Road in South Buffalo. Several hundred fans, many in Blackhawks jerseys, were on hand to greet Kane as was Mayor Byron Brown. The crowd was even bigger at the West Seneca Town Rink on Union Road, where a couple thousand greeted Kane as he rode the Cup to the front door on a zamboni and then took it inside to a huge ovation from several hundred jersey-clad youth hockey players. 

The microphone at the West Seneca ceremony was dead but it was still clear Kane was being presented a proclamation of "Patrick Kane Week" in the town and a No. 88 jersey of the West Seneca Wings, his youth hockey team for five years.

"It was a thrill of a lifetime, riding in and being on the back of the Zamboni carrying the Stanley Cup, with all the little kids and people wearing the jersey that  you once wore screaming your name," Kane said. "So it was definitely a fun moment."

There were plenty of them for the Blackhawks star Saturday. Stay tuned to Buffalonews.com for move photos and a video wrapping up the day with photographer Mark Mulville and Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan. For an early look at some photos and Vine videos of the festivities at all three sites, you can review my Twitter account here. 

For a look at what all the Blackhawks have done with the Cup this summer, check out NHL.com's Summer With Stanley Blog.

Zamboni
Kane exits the zamboni with the Stanley Cup in West Seneca.


 

Happy anniversary, Sabres fans: 14 years since No Goal

By John Vogl

The most controversial play in Sabres history turns 14 years old today.

Yes, it's been 14 years since Brett Hull scored with his foot in the crease to give the Dallas Stars a Stanley Cup victory in Buffalo. The triple-overtime contest was June 19, 1999 -- a day that Buffalo sports fans will never forget.

In case you feel like reliving the moment, here are links to the stories and columns that ran in The Buffalo News following the game. There's also a 10-year anniversary story.

Continue reading "Happy anniversary, Sabres fans: 14 years since No Goal" »

Bruins, Blackhawks ready for Game Three in Boston

By John Vogl

A key question heading into Game Three of the Stanley Cup finals isn't who will win. It's when they will win.

Chicago and Boston have played parts of 10 periods, which normally equates to 3 1/2 games. Instead, the series is tied, 1-1, after Chicago won the opener in triple-overtime and Boston came back with an overtime win in Game Two.

The series shifts to Boston tonight. Chicago has lost Game Three in every series so far.

Here is the hometown look at the game, with the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.

Blackhawks take Game One of Stanley Cup in triple-overtime

By John Vogl

The way Boston and Chicago have been playing, it was assumed by many the Stanley Cup would be a tightly played series. Game One only enhanced that outlook.

The opener went to triple-overtime before Chicago's Andrew Shaw finally had a goal bounce off his leg and into the net with 7:52 remaining in the sixth period, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory. Chicago rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits.

The game was the fifth longest in Cup history. The "No Goal" epic between Buffalo and Dallas is No. 2.

Chicago took 132 shots, including 63 that reached Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask. Forty missed the net and another 29 were blocked. The Bruins put 54 shots on Corey Crawford.

For an in-depth look at each team, here is the coverage by the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.

Poll: Will Chicago or Boston win the Stanley Cup?

By John Vogl

The hockey season didn't start until January, but it seems like a long run for Chicago and Boston. One will complete the journey with the Stanley Cup raised over their head.

The finals start tonight. Bucky Gleason picked Patrick Kane and Chicago in today's Cup preview. Make your pick below.

Today     8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBC, CBC
Saturday    8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBCSN, CBC
Monday     8 p.m.     Chicago at Boston     NBCSN, CBC
Next Wednesday     8 p.m.     Chicago at Boston     NBC, CBC
*Saturday, June 22     8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBC, CBC
*Monday, June 24     8 p.m.     Chicago at Boston     NBC, CBC
*Wednesday, June 26    8 p.m.     Boston at Chicago     NBC, CBC

A tradition like no other: The CBC playoff montage

By Mike Harrington

I'm not going to go all Jim Mora on you and ask what playoffs are. After all, your "suffering" is just beginning.

But the Stanley Cup playoffs did, in fact, start this week and that means CBC's annual montage to get your blood flowing. As usual, the folks north of the border did an incredible job.

This one has gone all over the Internet the last couple days but since I don't get CBC (Verizon FIOS, work on that!!!), I had not seen it until yesterday.

Great stuff. Campbell-Umberger makes it. So does an old black & white interview with Tim Horton at 2:20. And Chills when you hear the voices of the likes of Danny Gallivan and Foster Hewitt. (Don't know? Google 'em, kids)

'May Day, May Day' -- 20 years ago tonight

By Mike Harrington

Many thanks to Brad May for tweeting within the hour to remind us that a huge game in his career and Sabres history just began 20 years ago tonight. Unforgettable goal with an unforgettable Rick Jeanneret call in the first video and a seven-minute recap of the entire game below that one. (The Sabres won it, 6-5, after trailing, 5-2. Lots of people forget that point).

Just another reminder of how much you miss playoff hockey when it's not around.

The night the power went out on the Stanley Cup final

By Mike Harrington

At least the folks in New Orleans got the Super Bowl restarted after the lights went out. When things went dark during Game Four of the 1988 Stanley Cup final in old Boston Garden, the game was suspended and the series was sent back to Edmonton for the Oilers to wrap up the Cup.

Check out the video here. There was a lot of fog too, circa the Aud 1975.

Stanley Cup: Kings win first title

LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Brown probably isn't going to remember much of the celebration after leading the Kings to their first Stanley Cup title in their 45-year history with a 6-1 win over the Devils. The euphoria was still sweeping through Staples Center, and Brown for the first time all season wasn't sure where to go or what to say.

He was virtually speechless while skating around the rink.

No, he wasn't skating. He was flying. 

And it was priceless.

"There are so many people behind this team," Brown said. "I don't know, man. Words can't explain it."

The Kings became the first team in NHL history to win the first three games, lose the next two and win in six. Los Angeles had won NBA titles, World Series and college football and basketball championships. Now, it can add the Stanley Cup.

Jonathan Quick was brilliant in the playoffs as he had been all season. His easiest game came Saturday. He faced only 18 shots and settled into his crease with a 3-0 lead in the first period. He walked away with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason.

"I think the attention the team is going to get is great," Quick said. "That's something we have been looking for in this market for so long, to get that attention toward hockey. It's just an honor to be on this team."

The Kings became the first team in NHL history to win the first three games, lose the next two and win in six. Brown had said before Game Six that the Kings' top players needed to perform if they were going to win it all. The game took a dramatic turn in the first period when former Sabres winger Steve Bernier took a major penalty for boarding Rob Scuderi.

"I didn't want to hurt our team," Bernier said. "I wanted to help them. This is extremely hard. It's been a long playoff run for us. To finish on that note, it's not fun for sure. But there's nothing I can do now."

Brown, a native of Ithaca and the Kings' captain had only one assist to show for the first five games before scoring the first goal of the game and adding two assists. Jeff Carter had two goals while Drew Doughty and Mike Richards each had two assists to help turn the clincher into a blowout.

"Your best players need to be your best players," Brown said. "We've had that all year. Today, there was an opportunity to do something special. Our big guys stepped up. It was a team effort. We had everyone playing. It's been the key to our success."

--- Bucky Gleason

Stanley Cup final: Facts and figures

LOS ANGELES -- The Devils and Kings are ready for Game Six of the Stanley Cup final tonight in Staples Center. The Kings have a 3-2 lead in the series. Twenty-six of the 32 teams that had a 3-2 lead went on to win the Cup.

Here are some other facts and figures, via NHL public relations.

* A team has had a 3-0 lead 25 times in the finals. Twenty teams completed the sweep. Three others won in five games. If the Kings win, this would make the first time in NHL history a team won the first three, dropped the next two and won in six games. The 1942 Maple Leafs are the only team to come back from three-zip and win it all. Detroit came back after trailing 3-0 but lost the seventh seven game to Toronto in 1945.

* Since 1939, teams with a chance to clinch the Cup on home ice are 40-20, but have lost six of the past eigtht in that situation since 2000. That includes the past four: 2008 Red Wings, 2009 Red Wings and the 2011 Canucks. Anaheim was the last team to win the title at home, which it did in 2007.

* Devils goal Martin Brodeur, with a win tonight, would tie Patrick Roy for fifth place for victories in the finals with 18. Jacques Plante had 25, Ken Dryden 24, Turk Broda 21 and Terry Sawchuk 19. Brodeur is currently tied with Billy Smith.

* The Kings were 12-0 in the first three games of a playoff series but 3-4 after Game Three. The Devils were 4-8 in the first three games, 10-1 in the fourth game and beyond.

* The road team has a 47-38 record in the playoffs, marking the highest win total for road teams in one postseason. The Kings are 10-1 after their record 10-game streak ended Saturday in Game Five.

* Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador had no goals and nine assists in 82 games during the regular season, but he's tied with LA's Drew Doughty for the scoring lead among defensemen. Both have four goals and 14 points. Salvador's postseason point total in the most ever for a player who played at least 70 games and had fewer than 10 points during the regular season.

--- Bucky Gleason

 

Stanley Cup final: Tallinder making difference

LOS ANGELES -- Former Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder is having the time of his life with the Devils after getting back into the lineup and helping them to two straight victories in the Stanley Cup final. The Kings have a 3-2 series lead going into Game Six tonight.

It would be tough to argue he was the reason New Jersey pulled itself back into the best-of-seven series, which resumes in Staples Center, but there's no denying he has made a difference along the blue line. He played very well Saturday in Game Five to extend the series.

"I thought Tallinder was fantastic," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "He skated the puck out of trouble and [had] composure. He was the most rested guy we've got. He was out for five months. You can see the fresh legs and how he looked."

Tallinder made his Cup debut in Game Four after leaving the lineup Jan. 17 with a blot clot in his leg. He had been waiting for the opportunity. The lanky Swede has made an impact with his steady play, experience and long stick. He's having a blast. The Devils are looking to force a seventh game at home with another win. 

"After being absent for 4 1/2 months, I love it," Tallinder said. "I’m enjoying and having fun with it. There are a lot of emotions, but what can you say? It’s just fun to be back playing hockey."

--- Bucky Gleason 

Stanley Cup final: Back to SoCal

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer had a feeling Zach Parise would respond to questions that had been dogging him about his lack of production in the Stanley Cup final. The Devils captain had gone without a point before scoring a critical first goal in a 2-1 win over the Kings in Game Five.

Parise took advantage of Jonathan Quick's miscue on the power play and beat him to the post after stealing his errant pass behind the net, push the Devils in the right direction. The team that has scored first has won each of the five games in the final. New Jersey's win snapped L.A.'s record 10-game winning streak on the road.

"It’s always nice to contribute," Parise said. "I still think that our line was playing fine. We were hetting a lot of great chances, and it wasn’t going in for us. Tonight, we get lucky and it’s the difference."

The Kings had a 3-0 series lead but still have the odds in their favor as the best-of-seven series shifts back to Southern California. Only six of 32 teams that trailed, 3-2, in the final series have gone on to win the Cup. The 1942 Maple Leafs were the only team that came back from three-down in the finals to win it all. New Jersey is looking to join them.

If the Kings aren't reeling after losing two in a row for the first time in the postseason, they will be if New Jersey wins for the third straight time Monday night in Staples Center. Game Seven would be played in the Prudential Center in Newark on Wednesday.

"We’re going to try to ruin the party again," said Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 25 saves and several critical stops in the final two periods. "They’re so close in L.A. to winning the Stanley Cup. I’m sure it’s getting to them a little bit to have all these chances and not capitalize on them. We’re just looking to stay alive."

--- Bucky Gleason

Stanley Cup final: Kings desperate for crown

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Kings have been in this situation three times during the postseason and three times eventually came away with the win they needed to advance. Now, they have another opportunity to win one game and bring home the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Los Angeles seemed a little more on edge than New Jersey after conducting their morning workouts in preparation for Game Five tonight in the Prudential Center. The Kings have had a 3-0 series lead in all four rounds of the playoffs and lost Game Four three times. They came back to win the fifth game twice. A third would clinch their first title.

"We’re here," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Jersey deserved the game [Wednesday]. But we’ve been able to bounce back from losses pretty well in the last 15 or 20 games of the season and the playoffs. Hopefully, we can dust ourselves off and come out with a good effort."

The Kings have a 15-3 record in the postseason and are 10-0 on the road. They have said repeatedly that the Devils have given them their biggest test over the past two months. Captain Dustin Brown said he and his teammates need to come up with a full effort in Game Five and end the series.

“”At this point, you find whatever you have left in the tank," Brown said. "Ultimately, it’s not going to be the coaches or management or media. It has to be [us] to push each other. We’ve done that thus far."

--- Bucky Gleason

Stanley Cup final: Devils need Parise

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils captain Zach Parise has been reasonably effective and had his share of scoring chances, but he's still without a point through four games of the Stanley Cup final. The Devils need Parise's production sooner than later to extend the series.

Game Five is tonight in the Prudential Center with the Kings holding a 3-1 series lead after their loss Wednesday in Staples Center. New Jersey is trying to be the second team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the finals to win the Cup.

"Zach’s game is so much more than the stat line," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said after a brief workout this morning. "He’s the heartbeat of our team. He’s the identity of our team. He forechecks. He backchecks. He kills penalties and in all situations. He really is our barometer. He’s the guy who makes us go whether he’s scoring or not. I don’t measure his game on goals and assists."

It's a good thing, too, at least in the finals.

Parise has 15 shots on goal in the four games but has nothing to show for them. He's actually without a point in five straight games, including the clincher against the Rangers in the conference finals. He's also minus-6 over the five-game span.

"I'm not concerned about his game," DeBoer said. "I know it's going to come." 

The team that has scored the first goals and gone on to win each of the first four games. The Kings are 10-1 when they open the scoring throughout the playoffs while the Devils are 9-2 when they score first. Los Angeles has won a record 10 straight on the road in the postseason.

"I don’t think there’s any secret that we won the last game because, for the first time in the series, we found a way to get some momentum," DeBoer said. "It hasn’t been for a lack of effort. I think we’ve pushed hard enough in the first period of games to grab the lead at different points, but [Jonathan] Quick has either made a big save or they made a good defensive play to keep us off the board. That momentum is important for sure."

--- Bucky Gleason

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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